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Puppy Scam : a warning

Letter to the editor,


We read your recent scammer article with interest. What many don't realise is that these people are so experienced and professional they can fool anyone.

Two weeks ago we became victims of a scammer. We believed it could never happen.

We arranged to purchase a puppy from an interstate breeder with a really good website. There was nothing available closer. Since Covid, the demand has outweighed the supply. 

It was decided to proceed with one shown in an internet photograph. The funds were transferred, along with the flight cost and delivery to our home a few days later. It never arrived and we became concerned the little thing was locked in a cage somewhere. On asking, details for the carrier,'Jetstarslogistico', a freight division of Jetstar were included. Using the tracking number from that site, complete with barcode, we learned the pup was collected and on its way to the transit point that morning. Complete shipping details were included. It never arrived; it didn't exist and we lost $1700.

Jetstar do not ship pets and a Jetstar freight centre doesn't exist in that city either. The elaborate websites, including Jetstar freight centre's are faked and the photos stolen from other sites.

It got worse. Notifying the police, we were told they might be able to catch up to the people's supplied address which did exist on Google Earth. They'd ask the perpetrators to do the right thing and refund the money. We don't believe the scammers live there anyway. Ends that attempt.

The bank receiving the funds was also contacted. Name, BSB and account number were authentic. An active mobile number was also advised. The bank advised they would contact the account holders. We were later told the customer/s declined to refund the money and no more could be done. This almost legitimises the fraud's criminality. All they have to do is to 'decline a refund' and they remain free to continue. 

Ends that attempt too.

Neither bank nor police seemed very interested. We found through 'Pet Scams' site, who have over 8000 scammers listed, that these people have been scamming for a long time. A high percentage of pets on the internet today are scams.

Moral of the story: If you're not holding a pet when you pay, don't do it

There is much more to this story too. 

(Name and address supplied)

Don't get scammed looking for a lockdown puppy by ACCC ScamWatch

Australians have lost nearly $300,000 to puppy scams this year, and scammers have been particularly targeting those seeking a furry companion during social isolation. Scamwatch has seen a recent spike in puppy scams and in April reports were almost five times higher than the average, with losses on track to exceed the 2019 total of $360,000. “A lot of people are stuck at home and going online to buy a pet to help them get through the loneliness of social isolation,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “Unfortunately the rush to get a new pet and the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 makes it harder to work out what’s real or a scam.” Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds and will take advantage of the fact that you can’t travel to meet the puppy in person. The scammer will usually ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you. “Once you have paid the initial deposit, the scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, and scammers are now using the COVID-19 pandemic to claim higher transportation costs to get across closed interstate borders or additional fees for ‘coronavirus treatments’,” Ms Rickard said. “Unfortunately once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.” The most common breeds reported were Cavoodles and French Bulldogs and most people contacted the scammers via an email address they found online. “The safest option is to only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person and if you cannot do that during the current lockdown restrictions, consider putting the search on hold,” Ms Rickard said. “Scam websites can look quite convincing, so try not to fall for the adorable puppy pictures they post, and remember, if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.” “Research the seller by running an internet search using the exact wording in the ad and do a reverse image search for pictures of the specific puppy, as you’re likely to be dealing with a scammer if you find matching images or text on multiple websites,” Ms Rickard said. “If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable breeders association, vet or local pet shop.” So far this year Scamwatch has received over 2,000 reports about COVID-19 scams and reported losses are now more than $700,000. “If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible,” Ms Rickard said. More information on coronavirus scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help. You can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts.

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